ViolaChi-Yuan Chen


Karen and Warren Kessler Chair

Taiwanese violist Chi-Yuan Chen holds the Karen and Warren Kessler Chair as Principal Viola of San Diego Symphony, a position he has held since 2014. Top-prize winner of both the 2000 Fischoff Chamber Music Competition and the 2004 International Paris Viola Competition Ville d’Avray, Chen has already established himself as one of the leading violists in his generation. Because of his outstanding musicianship and contributions, Mr. Chen received the Henri Kohn award from the Tanglewood Music Center in 2000.

Prior to his arrival in the United States in 1998, Mr. Chen performed as principal violist with a number of orchestras in Taiwan including the Taipei Metropolitan Symphony, Taiwan String Orchestra, the Taipei Opera Symphony Orchestra and the Taipei Century Orchestra, among others. As a soloist, Mr. Chen performed concerti with the National Symphony Orchestra of Taiwan, the Taipei Civic Symphony Orchestra and the National Defense Symphony Orchestra.

As a guest artist, Mr. Chen has performed with numerous ensembles, including the Boston Chamber Music Society, Metamorphosen Chamber Orchestra and the Gardner Museum Chamber Ensemble in Boston, where he was the principal violist from 1999-2002. An advocate chamber musician, Mr. Chen has been performing with internationally renowned artists such as Yefim Bronfman, Colin Carr, Elliott Carter, John Corigliano, Toshio Hosokawa, Ani and Ida Kavafian, Yo-Yo Ma, George Perle, Paula Robison and Jean-Yves Thibaudet. He has also performed with members of American, Arditti, Brentano, Cleveland, Emerson, Guarneri, Mendelssohn and Miami string quartets.

A dedicated educator for the next generation, Mr. Chen’s international teaching appearances in variable settings such as master-classes, chamber music and concerto performances have been highly acclaimed. Over the years, he has successfully conducted numerous master-classes in universities and music conservatories in Europe, Asia and North America. In 2009 Mr. Chen was invited to be Macau Youth Symphony’s Overseas Honorary Advisor, and his achievements and generous contributions to music education have been highly recognized by Governments of Macau and Hong Kong.

A founding member of the Great Wall String Quartet resides in Beijing’s Great Wall International Summer Academy, Mr. Chen has regularly performed and toured extensively in Asian countries. As the only string quartet invited by UNESCO, the quartet has participated in a documentary film for the 2009 World’s Heritage Festival – their DVD recording is in stock of the UN’s library archive. The quartet has released their debut album The Great Wall in 2012. In 2013 the album was awarded “Best Performance in Classical Music” at the 24th Golden Melody Awards in Taiwan. In 2015 their second album, Tango, was awarded in the Best String Quartet at China’s 11th HiFi Album Awards.

Mr. Chen holds a Doctoral degree from State University of New York at Stony Brook; he also holds both a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree from the New England Conservatory in Boston, where he received highest distinction in performance on both degrees. His teachers include Ben Lin, James Dunham, Martha Katz, Katherine Murdock and Nobuko Imai. Mr. Chen currently resides in San Diego where he is also a studio artist faculty of San Diego State University.

Chi-Yuan Chen performs on a Gasparo Bertolotti da Salo viola c. 1580 “ex-Ferir”, which is on a generous lifelong loan made available to him by an anonymous donor.